LAURINBURG — Scotland County Republicans are ready to give state Sen. Tom McInnis an A plus for his work to help teacher assistants here and in four surrounding counties.
McInnis was at the Scotland GOP headquarters to explain his sponsorship of a bill to help teacher assistants seeking degrees that will lead to them to become licensed school teachers.
The plan creates a teacher assistant pilot program in Scotland County along with Anson, Franklin, Moore and Richmond counties to provide tuition reimbursement of up to $4,500 annually for 25 local teacher assistants.
“I came up with the idea last year because I know how hard it is to fill out teacher spots and I know how dedicated our teacher assistants are,” McInnis told about 25 members of the local Republican party. “I know through no fault of their own, teacher assistants aren’t able to finish their last two years of school to become a teacher. Many are stuck in that position making $18,000 a year.”
He added that after completing their education, teacher assistants can nearly double that annual salary.
“His bill would allow teacher assistants to work their way to a degree in teaching, thus cutting down on the turnover and helping our local employment,” said county Republican Chairman Mark Schenck. “This is fantastic.”
The only requirements for teacher assistants who complete the state-funded degree would be:
— to have worked as a teacher assistant for five years;
— be recommended by the school principal;
— teach at a low performance school;
— and obtain a teacher’s license.
The bill is unique because it will not require teacher assistants to complete any student teaching classroom hours because they have already been in the classroom, said McInnis, an Ellerbe auction company executive running for his second term representing Senate District 25. The Republican will face Lilesville Democrat Dannie Montgomery.
The legislation was approved by the General Assembly in June as part of the $22.34 billion state budget.
The budget also includes giving public school teachers raises averaging 4.7 percent, which legislative leaders say would boost the average salary for the coming school year to $50,186 including supplemental pay by counties.
Reach Nolan Gilmour at 910-276-2311